Good Innovation Managers are Simply Good Managers

What happens when the people that are supposed to be creative and innovative in your organisation are neither?

I ran across an interesting quote from one of the people interviewed in the new book Herding Cats: Being Advice to Aspiring Academic and Research Leaders by Geoff Garrett and Graeme Davies:

The biggest thing that I have found through the years is that many people in research are actually bureaucrats. I would have expected them all to be interested in the future, wanting to change the world, brimming over with enthusiasm to get on with the job and deliver useful results. This took me a long time to realise and I think I would have been much more effective if I had understood that there are a lot of people who really do not want to see much in the way of change, and that includes a lot of people in R&D.

How do you deal with this?

It’s actually a really tough question. This is why effective change management is a critical part of innovation management. It’s also why in research studies, innovation success correlates with so many other good outcomes – higher profits, better firm survival rates, more engaged employees and so on.

The reason for this is that all of these things are driven by good management.

Garrett and Davies conclude their excellent book with a quote from another interview:

I reckon there are five key dimensions to leadership in a research and development or academic environment…

  1. Research leaders must have a vision of where they want the organisation to go – because, if you don’t, no one else will.
  2. You articulate it, and communicate it well, to get your people excited.
  3. You hire the best people you can find.
  4. You create the environment where they can excel, and succeed.
  5. You get out of the way.

Garrett and Davies undersell their book when they say it is only about managing academic-style research. Those are all the things you need to do to manage effectively anywhere.

Good innovation managers are simply good managers.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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